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Drew Tack

Drew Tack joined NIST as a National Research Council post-doctoral research associate after receiving his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied applications of expanded genetic codes for protein engineering and microbial evolution. As a research biologist in the Cellular Engineering Group at NIST, Drew is interested in using biology to solve many challenges we face as a society today. To this end, he wants to improve existing methods and develop new approaches to engineer biomolecules. Currently, he is part of a collaborative effort to engineer genetic sensors, or transcription factors, with unique properties. This work leverages NIST automation capabilities with the Living Measurement Systems Foundry, high throughput measurement technologies, and large datasets to advance the field of genetic sensor engineering and improve the process for building living measurement systems.  

In general, Drew is interested in improving directed evolution by developing new measurement approaches that provide unprecedented information for biomolecular engineering. He is focused on developing methods for directed evolution that generate large datasets that can be married to machine learning approaches and are generalizable to many challenges in engineering biology. Drew want to identify the shortcomings and improve every step of the design-build-test-learn pipeline that is fundamental to directed evolution. Current efforts are focused on genetic sensors, but he is interested in developing methods that are applicable to any biomolecular target. Drew is always willing to share his work and is open to everything from casual discussions to formal collaborations regarding directed evolution or biomolecular engineering in general. 


DS Tack, PD Tonner, E Musteata, V Paralanov, D Ross. Improve stability of an engineered function using adapted bacterial strains. BioRxiv. 2020.

DS Tack, AC Cole, R Shroff, BR Morrow, AD Ellington. Evolving bacterial fitness with an expanded genetic code. 2018. Scientific Reports 8(1), 1-12.

DS Tack, JW Ellefson, R Thyer, B Wang, J Gollihar, MT Forster, AD Ellington. Addicting diverse bacteria to a noncanonical amino acid. 2016. Nature Chemical Biology 12(3), 138.

J Xu, D Tack, RA Hughes, AD Ellington, JJ Gray. Structure-based non-canonical amino acid design to covalently crosslink an antibody-antigen complex. 2014. Journal of structural biology 185(2), 215-222.

Postdoctoral Research Opportunities

National Research Council Research Associateship Program at NIST:

Created July 30, 2019, Updated April 1, 2020